Arkansas’ most famous rock ‘n’ roll groupie has passed away.
Obviously, Connie Hamzy passed away on Saturday at the age of 66. The funeral home declined to be cited.
They said to get details from the family. But Hamzy’s parents predeceased her, and she was an only child.
More distant relatives said they heard it via social media.
“Connie was a character,” said Rita Ann Lawrence of Heber Springs, Hamzy’s cousin. “She was very colorful. She was always in the news.”
Hamzy had to thank Grand Funk Railroad for its fame.
She is mentioned in the first verse of their seminal hymn “We’re an American Band”:
On the road for forty days
Last night in Little Rock put me in the haze
Sweet, sweet Connie, doing her deed
She had the whole show and it’s a natural fact
Released in 1973, the song “We’re an American Band” rose to number one and remained on the Billboard charts for 17 weeks.
In his later years, Hamzy could be seen around Little Rock wearing a t-shirt that said “Big Funk’d”.
According to her voter registration information, Hamzy was born on January 9, 1955.
Her mother, Joetta B. Hamzy of Little Rock, died in 2014 at the age of 85, according to her obituary. Connie’s father, Conti Hamzy, was from Sicily, said another cousin, Wendell Boydston of Kansas City, Missouri.
A marker in a Little Rock cemetery indicates that WL Conti Hamzy died in 1984 at the age of 64.
Lawrence said Connie Hamzy grew up in North Little Rock and never married.
Pat “Flap” Jones, host of KUAR radio’s “Not Necessarily Nashville”, remembered Hamzy from yesteryear.
“I met her as a teenager in the ’60s,” Jones wrote on the show’s Facebook page. “My girlfriends and I went to all the concerts at the time. Most at Barton [Coliseum], some at Robinson [Auditorium]. We always wanted to get there as soon as possible, hoping to meet the bands and get some autographs. We depended on our parents to drop us off so it took a bit of hanging fangs on our part. Connie was already there when we arrived and then would disappear, ending up backstage. We wondered how she was doing. Ah innocence. Guess you could tell we were tiny boppers. She was a real groupie. “
Later, in the 1980s, Hamzy was a substitute teacher for Jones’ children.
“They had no complaints, but the school board did,” Jones wrote. “Once they found out who she was, they let her go. It really hurt her. She loved children and was pretty nice to them.”
According to cbsnews.com, Hamzy claimed his rock fans included members of The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Bad Company, Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, country legend Willie Nelson, singer of Kiss. Gene Simmons and Huey Lewis, as well as Peter Frampton and Rick Springfield.
She published a memoir in 1995 titled “Rock Groupie: Intimate Adventures of ‘Sweet Connie'”.
Michael Hibblen, chief information officer at KUAR, said he met Hamzy on Sunday afternoon at Town Pump in Little Rock.
“She would sit at the Town Pump bar and openly share her getaways with rock stars,” Hibblen said. “She was giving all kinds of graphic detail.… She wasn’t ashamed of it later in life. She always had fun telling those stories.”
Art Meripol was a photographer for the Arkansas Gazette in the 1980s. He met Hamzy at many concerts where he took photos.
“I think what gets lost in talking about Connie is how much she really loved music and musicians,” he said. “She had a feeling of childish joy at every show, like she was amazed that she had been able to be there.”
Kelley Bass, who was a reporter for The Gazette in the 1980s, said Hamzy asked her to write her biography. But after reading a few of his diaries, he decided not to.
He said Grand Funk Railroad performed at the Robinson Auditorium years after the American Band album, but they didn’t want anything to do with Hamzy at the time. Bass said they should have at least let her go on stage and give her a wave right before they got into “We’re an American Band.”
Along the way, Hamzy ran unsuccessfully for the city manager of Little Rock, was fined $ 50 for wearing a thong bikini in Murray Park and claimed that a former governor, who became later president, had placed himself at his disposal.
She also made a baby bib that won a second red ribbon at the Arkansas State Fair.
On June 25, Hamzy was spotted outside the Old State House in Little Rock listening to a band perform for guests at a private reception for the exhibit “Play It Loud: Concerts at Barton Coliseum “. After the first hour, everyone was invited.